Dr Elizabeth Alexander: first female radio astronomer

Orchiston, Wayne (2005) Dr Elizabeth Alexander: first female radio astronomer. In: Orchiston, Wayne, (ed.) The New Astronomy: Opening the Electromagnetic Window and Expanding our View of Planet Earth. Astrophysics and Space Science Library, 334 . Springer, Dordrecht, Netherlands, pp. 71-92.

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Abstract

During March–April 1945, solar radio emission was detected at 200 MHz by operators of a Royal New Zealand Air Force radar unit located on Norfolk Island. Initially dubbed the ‘Norfolk Island Effect’, this anomalous radiation was investigated throughout 1945 by British-born Elizabeth Alexander, head of the Operational Research Section of the Radio Development Laboratory in New Zealand. Alexander prepared a number of reports on this work, and in early 1946 she published a short paper in the newly-launched journal, Radio & Electronics. A geologist by training, Elizabeth Alexander happened to be in the right place at the right time, and unwittingly became the first woman in the world to work in the field that would later become known as radio astronomy. Her research also led to further solar radio astronomy projects in New Zealand in the immediate post-war year, and in part was responsible for the launch of the radio astronomy program at the Division of Radiophysics, CSIRO, in Sydney.

Item ID: 4995
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
Keywords: radio astronomy, New Zealand, ‘Norfolk Island Effect’, solar radio emission
ISBN: 978-1-4020-3723-8
ISSN: 0067-0057
Date Deposited: 17 Sep 2009 05:57
FoR Codes: 22 PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES > 2202 History and Philosophy of Specific Fields @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970102 Expanding Knowledge in the Physical Sciences @ 100%
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